A victory for evolution in South Korea

September 16, 2012 • 12:30 pm

In June I posted some depressing news about how South Korea, thanks to its Ministry of Education and creationist pressure, was set to purge some important examples of evolution from its school biology textbooks.  Well, according to Wired Science, it ain’t gonna happen:

As previously reported on Wired.co.uk, pressure group Society for Textbook Revise had managed to persuade textbook publishers to drop sections from their books that discussed the evolution of horses and the Jurassic-era early avian-like dinosaur Archaeopteryx.

Now, however, a special panel convened by the South Korean government has recommended that the publishers ignore the creationists’ arguments — which should mean that textbooks reintroduce the old segments before the start of the next school year.

The argument of the Society for Textbook Revise — an offshoot of the Korea Association for Creation Research — rested on there being debate among evolutionary scientists over whether Archaeopteryx could fly, or glide, or merely had feathers for decoration. This disagreement was extrapolated to cast doubt on the whole evolutionary history of birds.

In response, South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology set up a panel experts to assess the campaign’s claims. They disagreed that their Archaeopteryx objection was a valid argument, and said it should remain in the textbooks. The campaign group also claimed that a section on the evolution of the horse was too simplistic, which the panel agreed with — but they have merely recommended replacing it with a more thorough explanation, or a new section on the evolution of another animal like the whale.

I don’t know what was in the horse section, but it may have been the old misconception that horses evolved linearly and “progressively” from a small, four toed Hyracotherium ancestor into the big single-toed horses of today. That’s not the way it happened: horse evolution was a branching bush, with some lineages getting smaller after they got larger, or fluctuating erratically in size.  There is of course one lineage from small, four-toed, small-toothed horses to big, one-toed, massive-toothed horses, but that’s just one line of descent among many. And many horse lineages went extinct without issue.  It would be an improvement to present the story to students in an accurate way, but if the Koreans want to use whales, that’s fine too.  Just keep the creationists out of textbook revisions.
To celebrate Korea’s victory for good science, I’ll put up this old but hilarious anti-creationist Doonesbury post. Coincidentally, it was recycled as today’s cartoon on Slate (thanks to several readers for sending it).

25 thoughts on “A victory for evolution in South Korea

    1. Really? The comic only discusses one far fetched claim, so I just couldn’t imagine what else you might be referring to. Oh, please remember this website’s rules: creationists must give evidence for their views, since the site’s namesake is but one of many sources for the evidence of evolution by natural selection. If you don’t have evidence, well then, stfu.

        1. Okay, synaptic, before you can post again, explain why the mountains of evidence that we descended from a common ancestor with that of modern chimps, gorillas, etc. is WRONG. We’re waiting. .

          1. I knew it would come to censorship. I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t post my response so that the creationist appears to be at a “loss for words.”

            You know very well that even if there were ancient remains of chimps/hominids (that were not a mix-and-match set of scant bones and bone fragments that they are) that appeared to have physical features that are not exactly like chimps today and aren’t like humans today–that is proof of NOTHING in terms of human evolution, that is simply proof that there are extinct primates (with varying physical features) that do not exist today. That does not prove “human ancestry” whatsoever. Nor do the extremely old, arthritic remains of Neanderthals–with their jutting, arthritic facial features–prove that they are our less evolved, more “apelike” ancestors.

            This is the evolutionist’s ultimate failure–to be able to prove that their claims of “intermediaries” are anything more than wild conjecture.

            1. Man, you either know nothing about the human fossil record or are blinkered by faith. Do you care to tell us why australopithecines, which have a humanlike postcranial skeleton but a skull with a 400-500 cc brain (the size of a chimp) are “arthritic”?

              Did all Neanderthals have arthritis? And what about H. erectus, A. afarensis, and the like, which show temporal changes from early apelike forms about 4 mya to more “modern” ones 1.5 myr ago, and so on? How do you explain those temporal changes?

              You have a very strange idea of what constitutes “evidence.” The hypothesis is that early hominins would have mixtures of humanlike and early apelike features. This is exactly what we find. It’s all supported with radiometric dating, too.

              Do you think that all paleoanthropologists who support human evolution have been cruelly deluded?

              Or do you consider Genesis to be “evidence”?

        1. Hey, I did. Neat site! The FAQ’s in particular are excellent short rebuttals of some of the anti-evolution canards.

          I see the FCD was responsible for the campaign that got Charles Darwin on the British banknote.

          I’m also amused to see that Richard Carter, whose site it is, was turned on to evolution by reading The Blind Watchmaker. Exactly as I was. Richard (Dawkins) sure has a lot to answer for!

            1. Yes, you’re right, that was rather clumsy phrasing on my part. They did start a campaign, Darwin did get on the note, how much part the campaign played in it is unknown.

              The site is certainly worth a look for anyone who has a layman’s interest, shall we say, in Charles Darwin.

      1. What Jim said.

        I added it for fun some time ago — it was relevant to the current WEIT topic — but didn’t mean to retain it permanently.

        However, I found that if I change my handle, WP seems me as a first-time poster, and my comments are held up in moderation again.

        /@

  1. Since God cannot possibly exist, how could then creationism be any sort of a good theory?
    Square circles can do nothing!
    Without ntent, God cannot be the Creator etc. anyway, lacking those referents, thus is no more than a square circle per the Coyne-Mayr-Lamberth argument!
    “Logic is the bane of theists.” Fr.Griggs

  2. Is there any restriction on which creation myth must be taught?
    If not, put all one can find in a barrel, and then select one a week for fun and enlightenment.

  3. Looks like the schools will have better books as a result of the creationists’ efforts! Nice outcome. Either the horse section will be more accurate or the whale will be used instead, whose evolution looks to me at least as a better didactic instrument.

  4. I prefer this version.

    “Q: According to the creationists there were dinosaurs on the Ark. Where are they now?

    A: The creationists are right, there were dinosaurs on the ark but Noah didn’t like them because they were too ferocious and refused to stop eating the other animals. So he threw these overboard. Others were too big and gobbled up all the food so Noah had his son kill them and that’s what sustained the rest of the animals until God deposited the ark on top of Mount Ararat.“

    Parody credit to my uncle Bruce.

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